If you have been injured either physically or psychologically and it was because someone was negligent in some way, then you can see to recover monetary damages for your losses by filing a personal injury case.
To recover damages in a civil case you will have to prove your case and as plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) you have the burden of proof; if you cannot prove the requisite elements the case will be dismissed.
How Do I Prove My Case To A Jury?
To successfully win in a personal injury case you will normally need the help of an experienced attorney to prove the other party was at fault and is responsible to pay you money. In most personal injury cases the plaintiff’s attorney will have to establish the other party was negligent. Negligence is when a person fails to exercise the reasonable care that an ordinary person would have exercised in a similar situation.
First the attorney will have to establish that the person you wish to recover from owed you a legal duty or obligation. Once that is established the next step is showing that the person breached his or her legal duty to you by acting recklessly or violating the reasonable standard of care that an ordinary person would use under the circumstances.
For example, a motorist owes you a duty to obey the rules of the road and not to drive recklessly; the motorist could be found to have breached that duty if they are found to be speeding or drinking while driving (reckless behavior).
The next hurdle is proving that there is a factual or “causal” link between what the person did or did not do and the injury you sustained. Once the third hurdle is overcome, the plaintiff must prove that there are monetary damages and establish what financial award he is entitled to.
What Are Damages?
The plaintiff must show that he suffered damages that can be calculated in financial terms. In a civil case, damages usually refer to the money that the plaintiff seeks to be compensated for some legal wrong that the other party had committed.
The court looks to award damages to the party that brings the legal action in order to make them whole for the wrong or harm that was allegedly committed against them. There are three different types of damages one can recover in a personal injury case which are explained further below:
Actual damages, also known as compensatory damages, refers to the amount of money the court will allow for the actual harm you suffered. The harm suffered can refer to some wrong or action that the other party committed or some inaction that caused you harm. Any reward that the court deems as actual damages in your case is designed to compensate you and bring you back to the position you were in before the other party caused you harm.
Punitive damages are additional damages that the court can award you when the opposing partie’s actions were more deliberate and done with ill intent. These damages are meant to punish the opposing party and deter them from committing similar acts in the future.
Special damages are awarded to the victim to cover related expenses that you had suffered due to your personal injury matter. Special damages can include medical expenses, damages to your vehicle and lost wages from not being able to work while you were injured. Special damages are usually out-of-pocket costs or a measurable dollar amount of actual loss that you suffered.
What Can An Attorney Do For Me?
There are actually many ways that an attorney can help you:
• An attorney can evaluate your injury to determine what type of compensation you can receive from your claim and who you can recover from.
• An attorney can make sure that your claim is given the attention it deserves and that you are compensated in a timely manner by communicating with the other party’s insurance company and/or legal team.
• If your insurance claim is disputed, an attorney can conduct an independent investigation in order to determine how to best prove the other parties liability.
• An attorney can help you obtain a settlement outside of court or even take your matter to trial and win your case.
• If your case does go to trial, an experienced trial attorney will know how to present your case to the jury in a light that is most favorable to you.
Adam H. Rosenblum is a licensed Personal Injury attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey his website is www.personal-injury-nj.com.